Back in 2003, while working on Heat magazine, I got The Call. “Hey, wanna be an extra on Friends?” chirruped the PR in LA. It was like asking if Kanye needs social media training. Well, duh.
Two weeks later I was on the Warner Bros. set, filming my starring moment in episode 21 of series 9, aka The One With The Fertility Test. That’s me in the pink jacket in the first scene in Central Perk, before they roll the opening credits.
Being part of Friends, albeit a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it part, has been, and will forever be, one of the best moments of my life. Here’s what I know because of it…
1. Everyone has the same response
Tell people you’re in an episode of Friends and they’ll quote Janice at you. Every. Single. Time.
2. The extras in Friends were talking nonsense
As they silently “chat” in the background, the extras are actually mouthing the phrase “apples and pears” over and over. James Michael Tyler, aka Gunther, advised me that it makes the best mouth shapes on camera. It does. Try it.
3. It was hard work (kinda)
I thought I’d be lounging in the background but, oh no, the director wanted me to act. When David Schwimmer says the word “department” at the end of his line, that was my cue to walk across Central Perk to talk to Gunther. So, yes, that is my arse crossing the screen at that very moment. Is there an Oscar for Best Buttock Actress?
4. Chandler Bing smelled incredible in the flesh
Flustered after all that ”acting”, I accidentally ploughed into Matthew Perry as I walked off the set. Think soap mixed with musk, like a scrubbed meadow.
5. They paid attention to detail
Every gadget in Monica’s kitchen was fully functioning – even the fridge was plugged in. Props master Marjorie Coster said the best prop she ever made though was Phoebe’s doll’s house and she almost cried when it was torched. But it was funny.
6. Jennifer Aniston could fit in your pocket
She was tiny in the flesh. Like, proper tiny. Her legs were so slim that Rachel’s designer boots gaped around her knees like she was wearing her dad’s wellies.
7. They really were friends
In between takes Jennifer and Courteney Cox sat with their arms around each other and stroked each other’s hair, not unlike the way the nit nurse did it at school.
8. But they were also shy
The first rule of being on Friends is don’t look at the Friends cast. Yep, me and the other extras were under orders not to stare at Lisa and co. because it made them uncomfortable. But you try not gawping when faced with the six most famous people on the planet, as they were at the time. My eyeballs dried out from not blinking.
9. There was a seventh Friend
Everyone on set, main cast included, viewed James Michael Tyler as the seventh member of Friends. He was without doubt one of the nicest blokes I’ve ever met – no ego, no diva tantrums and, er, no hair.
10. Matt Le Blanc was the funniest Friend
Chris Evans is in for a treat. Matt Le B’s comic timing was jaw-dropping – he nailed every scene way before anyone else. It was obvious talking to everyone on set that Joey would get a spin-off when the show ended. They had such high hopes…
11. You’ll never get bored of seeing yourself on TV
“My” episode airs about four or five times a year and I still squeal every time I see myself on screen for those few precious seconds before the Rembrandts pipe up. Look, it’s me and Jen-An!
12. Nothing will impress people more when you tell them you’ve appeared on Friends
Travelled the world? So what. Written a book? Meh. Cured cancer? Big deal. Been served fake coffee by Gunther in Central Perk? That’s the best thing EVER!
And you know what, it really is.